The 13th Annual Glacier Classic

Friday, August 18- Sunday, August 20

Johnson’s Campground, St. Mary, Montana

The 13th Classic turned out to be one of the best yet.  Great participation, new faces, old faces, outstanding climbs and hikes and a wonderful basecamp.  All this without even being able to have a campfire (well, we had a brief one!).  Several of us arrived up on the west side of Glacier and camped at Blankenship Bridge (basecamp for the very first Glacier Classic) on Thursday evening and enjoyed a great night on the banks of the Flathead River.  An early start Friday led to a great day on and around Mt. Grinnell.  Everyone else slowly but surely made their way up to St. Mary and by 9:30 that evening we had the entire group in camp at Johnson’s.  Johnson’s turned out to be a great venue to hold this event at.  We had 4 adjacent sites that really served as one large group site.  We pulled all the picnic tables together, ate, drank and socialized.  Included in our stay were two shower tokens for each attendee which was nice after a long hot day in the high country.  And no pesky rangers breathing down our backs!

On Saturday morning most of us were up early to head out to our various climbs or hikes for the day.  Most destinations were successfully reached, some weren’t, but all seemed to have a fantastic time.  A fun time was again had in camp that night with much food, drink and merriment (and the aforementioned brief fire).  As a credit to a hard day in the mountains though, our camp was nearly dead quiet by a little after 11:00pm.

Sunday most packed up and made their way home.  About 2/3 of the group decided they’d like one more solid day in the mountains though and headed back up towards the Pass.  All went well and the Glacier Classic wrapped up for another year.  Already looking forward to 2018!!  Thanks to all of you who participated and made this a memorable event!

Attendees: (asterisk denotes first timer)

*Simone Macguire (youngest attendee and most talkative!)

*Mary Ellen Macguire

*Fintan Macguire

*Lauren Dunn

*Paul Lenihan

Alden Wright (oldest attendee!)

Edna Blanchfield

Sharon Berube

Jim Goss (only person to attend all Classics!)

*Steve Alverson

Paul Jensen

Chris Dunn

Bryan Kercher

*Elias Coe

*Andy Coe

John Bardsley

*Jen Bardsley

*Monica Roscoe

David Kahl

Julie Kahl

Roger Stevens

*Oliver Serang

Susanna Phillips

Joshua Phillips

Forest Dean

 

Mount Grinnell

Date: August 18, 2017

Trip Leader: John Bardsley

Participants: Jen Bardsley, Forest Dean, Jim Goss, Bryan Kercher, Monica Roscoe, Roger Stevens

 

The original plan for Friday of this year’s Glacier Classic was to climb Mount Brown, but with fires closing the Sperry Trail, I needed to find another objective and decided on Mount Grinnell.

 

Our group followed what seems to be the standard route, which starts at The Loop, travels to Granite Park Chalet, and then continues on to the Grinnell Glacier Overlook. At the overlook, the route leaves the trail, traversing north along the east side of the Garden Wall. The traverse is loose and exposed enough in spots that Jim turned back early on, and then about one-half mile from the summit, Monica decided that she wanted to turn back as well. Jen joined Monica, while I continued with the rest of the group to the summit. After a brief respite, I rushed back, meeting Jen and Monica just before they reached Grinnell Glacier Overlook. Forest, Bryan, and Roger opted instead to return via the Swiftcurrent Glacier Basin. Once back at the Highline Trail, Jen and Monica decided to hike it south to Logan Pass, while I waited for the fellas at Granite Park Chalet. Once we were together, we bombed the hot, dusty, and busy trail back to our cars at the Loop. I picked up Jen and Monica at Logan Pass on our way to our Johnson’s Campground in St. Mary, where The Rocky Mountaineers were camping for the weekend. It was a great day!

Route statistics: 13 miles roundtrip with approximately 5500 feet of gain.

 

 

Citadel Mountain

Date: August 19, 2017

Trip Leader: Forest Dean

Participants: Bryan Kercher, John Bardsley

 

The three of us got started at 7:30 am from the Jackson Glacier Overlook under (surprisingly) cloudy skies.  We quickly lost 600’ on the 1.3 mile hike down to the Gunsight Pass Trail.  A mostly level hike through forest over the next 1.1 miles put us at a spot due north of the great north cirque between Citadel and Dusty Star Mountains.  Here we put sandals on and made a knee deep crossing of the gentle St. Mary River.  The bushwack then began as we started up slope.  Using some recent beta we stuck fairly close to the east side of the creek draining the cirque and found the going mostly tolerable.  A few hundred vertical feet of dense alder was the crux of it, but we were able to plow through that in less than a half hour.  Beyond that we ascended through the typical Glacier high country:  small bands of cliffs, scree and talus slopes and around krummholz outcrops.  The high hanging valley was very pleasant with the huge northeast face of Citadel looming above us.  We cut up the east side of this cirque to a final scramble up to a 7920’ saddle.  From here we enjoyed a nice ridge walk for the next several hundred feet before steep, broken cliffs forced us on to the south side of the mountain.  We traversed along scree shelves until the second to last gully east of the south ridge.  From there we picked our way up solid class 3 terrain to the 9030’ summit.  Arrived there about 1:10pm and spent half an hour eating and taking pictures.  We retraced our steps back to the 7920’ saddle, debated a quick climb up Dusty Star (opted against) then headed back down toward the river.  Descent was uneventful and we were back at river crossing by 5:15.  Crossed river, gained the trail and arrived back at trailhead at 6:30.  11 hour day with 5500’ of elevation gain and approximately 11 miles of travel.  Excellent day of hiking and climbing with two great partners!

 

Reynolds Mountain

Date: August 19, 2017

Trip Leader: Susanna Phillips

Participants: Mary Ellen Macguire, Paul Lenihan, Lauren Dunn, Paul Jensen

 

It was cloudy and windy as we got to Logan Pass. All around us you couldn’t see the Mountains because of the clouds. Although, we decided to go ahead and approach the mountain with hope that the weather would change and open up.  The forecast in the mountains is just so unpredictable, until you go, you really never know.

The distance to the summit of Reynolds Mountain is about five miles, half of it it’s on human trail.  On the climber’s trail cairns guide you all the way up to the summit.

The elevation gain from Logan Pass is about 2,500 vertical feet, with class 2 or 3 climbing when taking the Southwestern Talus Slope route, making this climb a great introduction to beginner or first timer mountaineers.

Our group was a total of 5 people. For two of them, Paul and Lauren was their first time exploring the Glacier National Park and climb a mountain to the summit.  On our way up we only saw two different small parties coming down.  When all of us made it to the summit we realized really quickly that we were the only one on the mountain surrounded by spectacular views.

Piegan Mountain

Date:  August 19, 2017

Trip Leader:  Alden Wright

Participants:  Andy Coe, Elias Coe, Oliver Serang

 

Vick Applegate was going to lead this climb, but he had an injury and couldn’t make it to the Glacier Classic.   Andy Coe and son Elias, Oliver Serang, and Alden Wright started at the Lunch Creek trailhead a little after 9.  Parking was no problem.  While there is no official trail, there are many unofficial trails through the brush above the trailhead.  We went up into the Lunch Creek basin toward Pollack mountain to about 7200’, and then went up and southeast towards Piegan Mtn.  We scrambled up one short cliff band, but could have gone around it by going further south.  We were going up steep scree toward the summit, and close to 8000’ Oliver said that he wasn’t comfortable going further.  Andy and Elias went on, but soon turned around.  We hiked back down to the basin and stopped to play in a snowfield.  There were lots of wildflowers and good views despite some smoke/haze from the Sprague fire.  We all very much enjoyed the climb.

 

Iceberg Lake

Date:  August 19, 2017

Trip Leader:  Julie Kahl

Participants:  Edna Blanchfield, Sharon Berube, Steve Alverson, David Kahl, Jen Bardsley, Monica Roscoe, Jim Goss

 

As sometimes happens on my trips this hike got divided into two parties. Edna Blanchfield, Sharon Berube, Jim Goss, Steve Alverson, David and Julie Kahl, left the Swiftcurrent Motor Lodge Iceberg Lake-Ptarmigan Tunnel trailhead at 10:AM. Unbeknownst to us Jen Bardsley and Monica Roscoe started the hike at noon expecting to catch up to us on the trail. We never met and later figured out that they were looking at a moose in Lower Iceberg Lake as the earlier party was leaving the main lake. I think this was the most traveled trail I have ever been on, seconded only by the first few miles of the Paradise to The Camp Muir trail on Mt. Rainier. Yet it still wasn’t unpleasant. The day started out cloudy and cool, a little windy and stayed that way most of the morning, perfect hiking weather.

Right out of the trailhead the trail climbs a few switchbacks, then levels out to more gradual climbing as it runs along the flanks of Altyn Mt., Mt. Henkel and Crowfeet Mt., above Wilber Creek, for a little over two and one half miles (4.02k). It crosses Ptarmigan Falls just before the trail junction between the Ptarmigan Tunnel to the north and Iceberg Lake to the southwest, tucked into the side of Mount Wilber. Wilber Creek starts where Ptarmigan and Iceberg Creeks join, just below the junction. Now in the Iceberg Creek drainage, the trail meanders up and down the flank of the Ptarmigan Wall. We crossed many dry, rocky water courses running steeply down the wall, waterfalls in wetter times. The high point of the trail comes just before you drop down to the bridge across the outlet of the lower lake. There people were stopped with cameras and binoculars looking at an area across the drainage, beyond Iceberg Creek, talking about a moose and a bear. A big bull moose in an open area kept looking over his shoulder at something that turned out to be a brown colored bear, who seemed to just be foraging in the same area. The moose stayed in its feeding area and the bear meandered on by going about its own business and putting distance between them. The rest of the party was ahead of us, so only David and I got to see the drama. A few feet further on was a meadow with blossoming wildflowers and others were asking us to ID flowers. We were now, like 10 min. behind the rest of the party, they had rested and eaten lunch waiting for us. We joined them just as a guy from Germany decided to swim in the lake-very briefly. After ohing and ahing over the lake and Iceberg Peak above us and taking pictures, we sat to eat lunch while Jim and Sharon wandered to the south side of the lake. Rocks falling from above alerted us to a mountain goat on a ledge just above the lake to the south, where Jim and Sharon were. Panhandling Columbia ground squirrels were being cute and trying to get into our packs when we weren’t looking. Even though there was a lot of people there, they were spread out on the shore and we didn’t feel too cramped, though it was hard to take pictures without getting people in them. Pictures we saw of the lake, from other times, had a lot more icebergs than were there now, but there were still some at the base of the snowfields across the lake. The weather had started to clear and the sun came out occasionally and gave a variety of light conditions.

When Jim and Sharon came back we got a couple to take a few group photos for us, we took a few of them and then headed out. David and I stopped to use the privy above the lake and the rest of the party went on ahead, they wanted to go to the Swiftcurrent Hotel and see the new grand staircase built earlier this year, on their way back. Both they and Jen and Monica would say something about running into sheep on the trail. As David and I passed the lower lake, we saw Jen and Monica out by the small lake, but didn’t realize it was them. At the highpoint overlook the moose and bear action was over but a doe and fawn were making their way through the area. It occurred to me that now the bear had had time to make it across the drainage to where the trail was, but never saw it again nor did we see any sheep on the trail. Further down, above, across the drainage, we could see sunlight shinning off the Grinnell Glacier, and with the shift in light now all of the -constant whitewater- course of Iceberg Creek was visible. Just as we were starting down the first of the switchbacks above the trailhead Jen and Monica caught up with us. We had a good laugh over how we could have missed each other. They had stopped at the main lake and one of them had gone swimming -but not for long. We all agreed it was a great hike, on a beautiful day. My GPS said 5.21 miles (8.38k) one way.

 

Piegan, Pollock, Bishops Cap Trifecta

Date: August 20, 2017

Trip Leader:  Jen Bardsley

Attendees: Jen Bardsley, John Bardsley, Jim Goss, Forest Dean, Monica Roscoe, and Chris Dunn

 

Written by John Bardsley

 

Jen was keen to do the Trifecta after seeing pictures from a friend who had done this outstanding ridge traverse earlier in the summer. She had also convinced her friend Monica to do it, and I was game to take them. Forest, Chris, and Jim decided to join us, filling out the group.

 

We left camp at St. Mary about 8:15am, groggy after two days of climbing and celebrating. We were at Lunch Creek by 9am and soon started the climb. The route up through the Lunch Creek cirque to the saddle between Piegan and Pollock is straightforward, with well-trodden and visible climbers’ trails taking away the need for much route finding. From the saddle, the walk up to Piegan is quick and mellow, and we soon summited and were back to the saddle. From there, the route to the base of the Great Cleft – which provides class 3 access to the summit of Pollock – follows another well-trodden climbers’ trail. Our party made quick work of the Great Cleft, had a snack at the top of Pollock, and then continued along a very fun and beautiful ridge traverse to the base of Bishop’s Cap. At this point, only Forest, Chris, and I opted to climb the last class 4 section to the summit. All of us then returned to the saddle between Pollock and Bishop’s Cap, and made the long drop west, down scree slopes and ledges, to the Highline Trail. Several of us then jogged back to Logan Pass just in time to catch a shuttle to our cars. Yet another fantastic day, and what a weekend!

Trip statistics: 6 miles, 4500 feet of gain.